Is Addiction Hereditary?

It's not uncommon for individuals with addicted relatives to wonder, "Can drug addiction be genetic? Am I at risk?" For all of our intellectual advancement, one of the most complex conditions for society to understand is addiction. Hereditary genes play a part in how addiction develops, but there remains a stigma that addiction is based solely on poor decisions or an environmental influence. By understanding the roots of addictive behavior, addicts and those at risk for addiction can take the necessary steps for prevention or treatment, and loved ones can better support those already in recovery.

What Causes Addiction: Genes or Environment?

The short answer is that there is no single gene responsible for causing addiction. There are, however, certain genes that make individuals more inclined toward addictive behavior, and these can be passed down through families. For example, carrying an allele of the CYP2A6 gene can cause an increase in nausea and dizziness after smoking, and this gene is more frequently found in nonsmokers than in smokers. The same principle applies to genes that respond to or affect the body's response to certain drugs. Genes can be responsible for up to 50% of an individual's inclination toward addictive behavior, but to account for the other half, it's important to analyze other factors. Environmental stimuli and personal attitudes toward drugs can encourage the development of an addiction, but as with genes, they do not concretely determine whether or not an individual will become an addict. If an individual spends a lot of time in the company of others who drink or use drugs, they may be more likely to engage in the same behavior. Ultimately, it is both genetic predisposition and environmental factors that contribute to drug addiction.

If Addiction Runs in Your Family

It's an unfortunate situation when one of the ties binding a family is addiction. Hereditary predisposition can put individuals at a higher risk of addiction, but it does not guarantee that a drug dependency will develop. If you suspect that one of your birthrights is addiction, genetic detective work may be called for. If addiction is confirmed to be part of your family's history, use that information to prevent its development. Avoid illegal drugs and make a special effort to avoid heavy consumption of alcohol. Some may find it helpful to speak with a counselor to develop an individualized strategy to remain sober.

Can drug addiction be genetic? Absolutely. But if you know what you may be at risk for, you can make wise decisions based on that knowledge.

What to Do if You Suffer From Addiction

Even those with the best of intentions can go astray. If you or a loved one are impacted by drug addiction, help is available. BetterAddictionCare's nationwide recovery network includes both inpatient and outpatient rehab programs, and our services are 100% confidential. Our pre-screening assessment will determine the best treatment center match for you from within our network, and admissions are immediate. We can also help you speak with a counselor or locate addiction counseling near you. When the threat to your health and happiness is addiction, genetic or environmentally encouraged, the time is right to get help now. Call today or fill out our contact form to get more information and join the fight against drug addiction.

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